Sub-Zero Wake-Up Call: Winterize Your Vehicle Now


winter driving

BETHESDA, MD--Jan. 14, 2014: The recent record cold weather in most of the country should be a wake-up call to motorists who have not yet winterized their vehicles, says the Car Care Council.

"Sub-zero temperatures can stress out a vehicle, as well as its driver," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "The recent record low temperatures are a harsh reminder to be car care aware. During this break from the cold and snow, motorists should invest a little time to check over their vehicles so they have one less worry when arctic temperatures strike again."

For good visibility, make sure that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed. Also check to see that heaters, defrosters, lights and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don't properly clean your windshield should be changed.

Very cold temperatures reduce a vehicle's battery power so it's important to keep the connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don't always give warning signs before they fail completely, so if your vehicle's battery is more than three years old, it's wise to replace it.

Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to "winter weight" oil if you live in a cold climate. Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

Have the brakes inspected and check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.

Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling, so if you're due for a tune-up, have it done before the temperatures drop again. Also, clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system and have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.

Motorists should keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Lastly, stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

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